One of my favourite blogs is “writingyourdestiny.com” and a phrase struck me in one of her posts, “I’m finding that even within chaos of a big move, we can create a sacred space by our attitude”.
I met Tino while he visited the UK in 2010. He was staying with my friends C&D. At the time Burma was still in turmoil. The 2010 elections were considered neither free nor fair as the people were too afraid to vote for any of the opposition parties, and the popular choice, Aung Sang Sui Kyi, had been sidelined. The majority of people in Burma were living in abject poverty with few mod cons, and even the basics were difficult to get.
Tino himself grew up in poverty, repressed by the state, and trying to live his faith with all the odds stacked against him. He lived 36 miles from the nearest Mass centre and would often walk for hours to get there. As a child he had sometimes been carried there on the shoulders of the local priest who is now the Bishop of Lashio, Philip Lasap Za Hawng D.D.
Tino depended on C&D who sponsored him, for long term practical, financial and emotional support and along with aid from the church, for his continuing education and training to become a Priest.
When I was in the garden of their home I was overwhelmed by the aura of peace, contentment and holiness that Tino exudes. He has the gentlest countenance I have ever seen on a man, yet strong, unafraid and self-assured; filled with compassion and love.
Tino was feeling unwell that day due to the unfamiliar and rich food he had been eating, but he showed no sign of irritation with visitors. He just made himself quietly available to bring the love of God and his own peace to all who came near.
It was a wonderful experience and a great privilege to meet such an inspirational man. Who would have thought that in the last few months things have changed so much in Burma. Aung Sang Sui Kyi is now a free woman. She and her party won a landslide vistory in the April 2012 elections. She was able to travel to Oxford to be reunited with her family, friends and colleagues. Tino is able to continue his studies in Rome. And I am able to write this post knowing that Burma has just ended censorship of the press:
Tino and Aung Sang Sui Kyi have a serenity common to many Burmese which seems to come from a place deep within. They have the ability to keep a still heart and a quiet mind regardless of what goes on around them. It is impressive and reminds me of Meister Eckhart‘s words:
“The most powerful prayer, one well nigh omnipotent, and the worthiest work of all is the outcome of a quiet mind. To the quiet mind all things are possible. A quiet mind is one which nothing weighs on, nothing worries…”